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Roman Painting

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									Roman Painting
Comparative Civilizations 12 K.J. Benoy

Roman Painting – Relationship to Mosaics
 Similar

techniques marked mosaic work and painting in the Roman period.

Roman Painting – Relationship to Mosaics
 Though the Romans

did not develop the ability to display three dimensions on two dimensional surfaces to the same level of competence as Renaissance artists, they came close.  Only the mathematical precision was lacking.

Roman Painting – Fresco Technique
 Much Roman painting decorated walls.  The technique used was true Fresco. – This involved applying lime over a layer of plaster, mixed with sand over an upper layer of mixed marble and alabaster dust.  True fresco involves applying paint to wet plaster.  The painter must estimate the amount of plaster to

be applied in a day.  Unpainted plaster must be chipped away as it is of no use.

Roman Painting – Paint.
 The most frequently

employed pigments were earth tones.  Less commonly used was cinnabar, which is the brilliant red found at the Villa of the Mysteries at Pompeii.

Roman Painting – Fresco Techniques
 The problem for the painter is that the

colour applied may not be the colour that results.  Cinnabar occasionally turned black with time. It is also a very expensive paint.  Applied white always turned black.  Gold leaf is occasionally used.

Roman Painting - Pompeii
 Much of our knowledge of Roman domestic painting

comes from the bad luck of Romans in the area of Mt. Vesuvius.  Volcanic ash covered many Roman villas at Pompeii, Herculaneum and Boscorealle.  Much of our knowledge comes from excavations of these sites.

Roman Villas – Painted Decoration

Artist’s reconstruction of a villa’s painted decoration by art historian Bettina Bergmann.

Roman Painting – Four Styles The First Style
 The First Style:
– This sometimes is referred to as the “masonry style.” – This involved geometrical patterns, especially blockwork. – Walls are often painted to imitate marble.

Roman Painting – Four Styles The Second Style
 The Second Style

– Theatrical settings, like painted cityscapes. – The illusion of space is created.

Roman Painting – Four Styles The Second Style
 The Second Style – This often involved inter-connected scenes that show a story – such as that of the walls in Pompeii’s Villa of the Mysteries.

Roman Painting – Four Styles The Second Style

Wall from Pompeii’s Villa of the Mysteries

Roman Painting – Four Styles The Second Style

Pompeii’s Villa of the Mysteries

Roman Painting – Four Styles The Third Style
 The Third Style

– Movement away from architectural illusion and a turning to surface effects. – Pretty natural settings were often favoured.

Roman Painting – Four Styles The Third Style
 The third style is often

highly ornate.  The decoration serves to frame smaller individual works of art.

Roman Painting – Four Styles The Fourth Style
 The fourth style

– Ecclectic designs including a revival of the second style. – Painted narrative scenes.

Roman Painting – Four Styles The Fourth Style
 This style is often

marked by highly ornate images that reveal the artist’s close observation of how light plays on objects

Roman Painting
 The naturalism and

realism of Roman painting of the Republic and Imperial periods was quite remarkable and unsurpassed for over a thousand years, until the Renaissance.

Roman Painting – Portraiture
 Unlike the Greeks, the

Romans were keen to preserve accurate images of the dead.
– This probably originated in the Roman veneration of ancestors. – Accurate images were made in death masks, busts and paintings. – Romans had no desire to annoy the dead.

Roman Painting - Portraiture
 One of the richest

sources of Roman portraiture is Fayum, in Egypt.  Images of the dead lay in sarcophaguses during the Roman period, as before. What is new is the amazing realism of the encaustic painted images that have been recovered here.

Roman Painting – Portraiture The Fayum Mummy Images

Roman Painting – Christian Influence
 As in sculpture,

Roman mosaics and paintings turned increasingly away from realism and toward symbolism.  Figures are made more “spiritual” by separating them from a realistic background. They seem to float in space

Roman Painting – Christian Influence
 This symbolic style,

which began to be used in the catacombs of Rome and other Christian centers became the dominant art form of both the Byzantine Empire and the Germanic Christian West.

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